Goodbye to Kids, Hello to Time!

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Leaving behind your kids to give yourself space can be extremely challenging. Beyond Mom Azizah Rowen shares her conflicting emotions as she faced traveling to London on a girl’s trip for a few days.  Check out Randi’s posts where she too reckons with complex emotions traveling to London and Los Angeles. We hope these stories give you support and comfort as you experience the complexities of a mother’s devotion and a woman’s desire for independence. 

Flying across the pond to London, I felt a sense of adventure and excitement as I embarked on a much-needed girls trip. My best friend from theater school is currently starring in Motown in his West End debut, and some of my oldest and dearest girlfriends from high school and college also live there, so it was a good excuse for a few of us in the States to visit.

It was my third girls trip since having both of my children, and each and every time I have left, it hasn’t gotten easier. Similar to the past two trips, the entire week up to me leaving I was plagued with anxiety that my plane would crash or I would be having wine in a pub when terrorists would attack London. The innate sense of wanting to protect my children always feels compromised when distance separates us.

Five days before my flight, in typical parental irony, my eldest son came down with the flu and had a 105 fever. Guilt overtook me and I thought, how could I possibly leave him in this state? Also, how could I have thought that it was okay to leave them at all? I contemplated canceling.

Fortunately, he ended up feeling better and breaking his fever two days before I was scheduled to leave. At this point, I felt beyond stressed and unable to process the idea of being in another country, away from family and responsibilities. Talking endlessly with my husband, he repeatedly told me that all would be ok; that despite my fears, our family would not fall apart without me there, and I should go and have fun with my friends and enjoy myself. I knew he was right, but I still couldn’t shake that guilty feeling.

My friends who are also parents helped with this process of decision making. The consensus was the same; many of us who have children feel horrible before leaving and second guess our trips away from the kids up until the minute we leave. Truth be told, even after my son was cleared by the pediatrician, everything was in order, and I was all packed and walking out the door, I shed a few tears from my doorstep as I left on my journey.

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I thought about it a lot on the ride to the airport. When our whole heart is outside our body in the form of tiny humans, how can we possibly leave? This overpowering feeling stayed with me until my friend and I had a glass of wine and settled in our seats on the plane. As we took off, it hit me: I had four days ahead of me to sleep in, party with my girlfriends and have the freedom in a day to do anything I chose. I didn’t have to hear one cry or deal with one tantrum. I was suddenly enveloped in a feeling of relief and excitement.

The trip was fabulous. It was everything I had expected and more, and a perfect girls weekend away. We brunched, lunched, danced, walked, shopped and talked until the early hours of the morning. I remembered what it was like to take trips with my girlfriends before kids, and I reconnected with the part of myself that was not just a mother; the part of me that loves to travel, have fun and be adventurous. I really had time to talk with my friends and daydream, and to think about what I wanted to accomplish this year creatively. Most importantly, I had the chance to reflect on how much my family means to me.

Many women would never consider leaving their kids and others have no problem with it. I have no judgement and understand both positions. I fall somewhere in the middle. I think I will always be conflicted about leaving, but I can say, I had the most incredible time and felt even better when I got back than I did before I left. I had even more gratitude, love and appreciation for my family after being away. Proof that while it’s never easy leaving, it’s worth it for me.